The NWSL announced Friday afternoon that is has issued a "significant fine" to Western New York for a lack of "organizational oversight" in how it both prepared and operated Frontier Field. This decision was made after the Seattle Reign were forced to play on a field well under NWSL regulation size, where the team ultimately fell 2-3 in a match that can hardly be described as professional soccer.
Details of the fine amount were not disclosed by the league. Here's the full statement from NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush.
"We have completed our review of last weekend's match between the Western New York Flash and Seattle Reign FC and today have issued a significant fine to Western New York for a lack of organizational oversight in both preparing and then operating Frontier Field to the standards of a professional soccer match. In the future, we will not deviate from our standards or grant exceptions for changes to field sizes that are not in accordance with our standards. Moving forward, we must, and will, work together with all of our partners to safeguard the integrity of our game and make certain that it is always respected both on and off the field.
We would like to thank our NWSL owners, U.S. Soccer and all of our other stakeholders for their hard work, patience and guidance as we worked through this difficult situation. This situation has been a distraction that has taken away from the many positive storylines our clubs are having this season with significantly increased attendance and fan engagement. Most importantly, our great players continue to turn in spectacular team and individual performances and are the reasons we remain so excited about, and committed to, our league and our sport."
The statement provides little, if any, detail about what transpired around Haley Kopmeyer's injury in the first half. Kopmeyer went down on a WNY throw-in (AKA corner kick on the tiny pitch), and had to wait nearly 10 minutes for a stretcher to arrive. Reign FC coach Laura Harvey also stated after the match that WNY refused to take Kopmeyer to the hospital. It is possible the NWSL statement references this in their comment about "organizational oversight," but the lack of clarity is frustrating.
Jess Fishlock had this to say on Twitter after the statement was released:
Kind of goes a little like this : ' I'm Sorry Mom ' ... ' You know you Can't do that, Give me your pocket Money & Don't Do it Again ' ..— Jessica Fishlock (@JessFishlock) July 15, 2016
While the fine might be the best approach, one has to wonder whether it was the right form of punishment for a team that probably doesn't have a significant amount of money set aside to pay it. Subtracting points might have been the smarter route, and I don't just say that as a Reign fan.
The NWSL statement came hours after Western New York issued a statement of its own, apologizing for "tarnishing" the league's reputation and image and noting that "there was a lack of oversight on behalf of our organization in preparing and operating Frontier Field at the standards we should expect for a professional women's soccer game. This ultimately resulted in an embarrassment for our league."
The NWSL has also fined and suspended WNY head coach Paul Riley for one match for "conduct directed at the match officials" in last weekend's match. No further details were provided on the specific incident (or incidents) that prompted this fine and suspension.
With the fine and statement out of the way, both teams and their fans can now turn their attention to a rematch, which takes place on Saturday, July 16 at Memorial Stadium. Tickets are still available, and the match kicks off at 7:00 p.m.